Sandon James aka Sweet Mix Kids: Best known for his eccentric fashion and DJ skills, Sandon loves eating out in Auckland.
Outdoor seaside dining, boats and birds, harbour views and tango dancers swirling the tiled floors in front of a bar serving sangria by the jug. Welcome to the forgotten dining hub of Princes Wharf. Forgotten by many Aucklanders, but not tourists. Limon, on this balmy Autumn evening sees busy tables of travellers and us locals graze on what i think is one of the city's best array of authentic tapas. The classic tapa of medjol dates stuffed with almonds and wrapped with Serrano ham is a must. Chorizo and prawns with garlic, chilli and aioli and what could be Aucklands most generous portion of slow-cooked beef cheek made us realise we'd made a small oversight with our main order - an amazing Paella, served in a giant Paella pan - seven types of seafood with a saffron hit that transported us straight back to Barcelona. Take a friend to Limon. Actually take all of them - the dishes here are big! Even the tapas selection (choose five for only $45) could easily suffice as dinner for four. At amazing prices with such a huge selection you can be forgiven in getting a little excited and working your way through the wine list of Spanish, Chilean and Argentinian vino, which will soon see you embracing happy swooning strangers for an impromptu Tango.
Unfortunately a few too many sangrias doesn't compliment two left feet, so back to round two of the Paella pan.
The Thirsty Frog Wine Bar
Both Julie & Richard, head frogs here have decades of passion and experience that shines in both wine and cuisine. You will find this out by pairing your Cotes Du Roussillon with a very French example of tapas, more like shared plate. There are two types of people in this world, those whom haven't tried this succulent lemony delicacy and those who love them. Here they are bliss. We bypassed both french and spanish cheese and scoffed our way through real French delicacies of pork rillettes, and both duck and rabbit terrines, the later the best I have tried in NZ. If you haven't given rabbit a go before, I've always said it's a sexier tasting example of chicken, and on this hot summer night it was easily washed down with an icy cold Kronenbourg. This North Shore institution also hosts its own wine shop, so if you get excited over a few glasses of Beaujolais at dinner like I did you can purchase a bottle or six to keep you warm over Autumn. Or just leap frog back over the bridge the following week.
Seafood Central - Wynyard Quarter
I'm a sucker for seafood. We all should be, especially when most of us live within a few kilometres of the ocean, or at least a good fish shop or market. Why are we all guilty of not consuming enough? Next time you're downtown in Auckland City put down that fad menu of the moment and head to Seafood Central. Courtyard dining here is cheap, simple and oh so fresh. You'll know this from the trucks and nearby boats servicing Auckland's largest seafood market. One thing that really gets me sometimes is how expensive the 'Fish of the Day' is, but here it's simple: $18-$21 gets you the seasonal special, snapper, tarakihi or salmon, and this is why Seafood Central is great because you get to choose how you like it cooked and with what sides. Sneaky trick: justify that yummy battered Trevally with a side of healthy fresh greens. Complete your lunch food pyramid with local grapes in the form of local wine from Matua Valley. Here eating alfresco seems to always be accompanied by live music and if you get too hot in this sheltered alcove, keep cool with a beer and some freshly shucked oysters from the market inside.
• Read more: Delaney Mes' favourite tapas
For more about Estrella Damm and tapas visit their website here.